Tor­nado hits Soweto sub­urb

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - AN­GELIQUE SER­RAO an­gelique.ser­rao@inl.co.za

THE SOUTH African Weather Ser­vice has con­firmed that the storm ex­pe­ri­enced in Soweto on Mon­day af­ter­noon was, in fact, a tor­nado.

Videos and pic­tures taken by res­i­dents in Protea Glen Ex­ten­sion 11 re­veal a mass of clouds that con­verge into a fun­nel shape com­ing to­wards the ground.

Some video footage shows parts of roofs and other de­bris fly­ing into the air as the tor­nado makes a slow move­ment over the area.

There were no in­juries from the ex­treme storm, but many houses had their roofs blown off or dam­aged.

El­iz­a­beth Web­ster from the SA Weather Ser­vice said they were not sure if the storm was in fact a tor­nado at first be­cause their radar did not pick up any key signs that a tor­nado was de­vel­op­ing.

How­ever, after look­ing at the video footage, it was clear the weather phe­nom­e­non was a tor- nado, although it was a very weak one, said Web­ster.

“It didn’t look like it touched down and reached the ground, or if it did, it wasn’t for very long.”

She said tor­na­does were more common in South Africa than most peo­ple re­alised, but they are not as strong as the tor­na­does seen in the US. They are iso­lated and don’t move over a long dis­tance.

This means the dam­age caused by a tor­nado is not ex­ten- sive be­cause it is spe­cific to that one place.

Web­ster said the con­di­tions for a tor­nado could de­velop any time there were warn­ings put out that there could be a se­vere thun­der­storm, along with more well­known weather phe­nom­ena such as hail.

“As long as the right con­di­tions are there in that spe­cific spot, such as wind sheer and un­sta­ble air, a tor­nado could hap­pen,” she said.

Se­vere thun­der­storms are common at this time of year. Last year around the same time, there were strong storms that saw hail­stones dam­ag­ing prop­erty.

On Satur­day, there was also a tor­nado at Vry­heid in KwaZu­luNatal.

Web­ster said one could see tor­na­does in KwaZulu-Natal, but they also stay in one place and cause dam­age only in that spe­cific spot.

She said the weather ser­vice might is­sue a se­vere thun­der­storm alert to­day for a storm that could de­velop in Gaut­eng to­mor­row.

PIC­TURE: MATTHEWS BALOYI

DEV­AS­TA­TION: This row of dwellings was buf­feted by a mini tor­nado in Protea Glen Ext 11 on Mon­day af­ter­noon.

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